High School Coach Suspended For Stopping A Gun-Wielding Student

An athletics director was punished for detaining a gun-possessing student in a move that has sparked a backlash from the community.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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East Point, an Atlanta suburb, is gaining nationwide attention in regards to the controversial firing of its Athletic director following an altercation that resulted in the educator restraining a student. The incident happened over last summer break, but the case is now going viral as footage of the altercation surfaces, and the story has a lot to consider and unpack. Not only was the teacher fired and then rehired, but the student involved now was reported to have been in possession of a gun at school.

See video footage via Fox News of the incident below.

Kenneth Miller is the Tri-Cities High School athletics director. And according to him, he was simply doing his job as an educator while he adhered to what Fulton County School Board policy says he’s allowed to do. According to reports, Miller states he was notified on August 20th by his principal that there was a possibility that guns were brought onto the school’s campus during one of the team’s pep rallies. Miller states that he was attempting to locate any guns on school property at the time he intervened in the detention of a female student.

The newly released police body-cam footage shows the school gun incident rollout. The girl was located in the principal’s office being questioned by authorities for unknown reasons. The situation escalated as the student smacked a phone out of Millers’ hands. Reacting, Miller grabbed the student by the shoulders pinning her against a whiteboard for detainment. Shoving back, Miller was pushed into a bookcase before authorities responded tasing the girl. Authorities and Miller did not know at the time that the student had possession of a loaded gun inside her book bag.

“I don’t feel like I did anything wrong,” said Miller. “We located guns. We saved lives,” Miller told Fox 5. The athletic director was initially fired, but the school district later retracted their decision to a suspension now of 20 more days, according to Yahoo. As Miller claims he acted within policy, the district’s administration feels differently. “Mr. Miller inappropriately intervened in a student matter being handled by school administrators and law enforcement. Mr. Miller acted outside of the scope of his authority and responsibilities,” Fulton County Schools said in a statement on Thursday.” Furthermore, the school district said the school gun-related altercations conflicted with the district’s expectations to deescalate violent situations. It seems the vital question to his actions remains in whether or not the students’ actions leading up to the restraint constituted Miller’s reaction.

school guns

Since the incident happened, community members have spoken out in support of Miller’s actions in the gun-related altercation. Kavon Smith Arnold said she was “ok” with Miller’s reaction to the situation. Furthermore, Arnold said, “What I’m not OK with is him being railroaded, because at the end of the day teachers are put in very uncompromising positions to take care of our children.” Miller’s lawyer has called on school systems to support teachers who are often put in “terribly dangerous situations”. “Those teachers are our first line of defense against guns and other types of terrible violence that happens in schools,” Miller’s lawyer said. 

As gun violence and other forms of school crime become more of a norm across the nation, the heated debate on how, or when school employees can intervene remains a hot topic. Generally, laws and regulations regarding how school teachers may intervene during students alterations vary between districts and state laws. The caveat is in how each district imposes such mandates, either in favor of allowing teacher intervention or not. Often, much of a district’s policies regarding guns and other violence look at teachers as being the deescalating force-but what about after the situation has turned into a full-blown violent act? In general, guidelines suggest that staff should use force only in reasonable, necessary, and timely manners. Similarly, many experts say the use of force should only escalate in response to the level of resistance the student shows. 

News reports remain unclear as to what legal ramifications Miller and his lawyer are seeking against the school district’s decision to fire and ultimately suspend him. If he seeks wrongful termination, it’s likely a court case will bring lengthy consideration into the video cam footage showing what went down in the classroom that involved violence, restraint, and school guns violence. Similarly, it will be interesting to hear from the school district on what exactly their policies regarding teacher intervention allows.